In Hillsboro, Oregon
The category: New housing developments that feel like real communities.
The stats: 15 miles west of Portland; population about 2,600. On the edge of the "Silicon Forest" - home to such high-tech giants as Intel and Lattice.
The residents: Jeri Alcock, 39, and Scott Soliday, 36. Alcock works as director of development for a nonprofit. Soliday works from home as a sales manager for a food products company.
How they got here: Living in a contemporary single-family home with an overgrown backyard and a 40-minute commute to Hillsboro, Alcock and Soliday hightailed it out of Portland in August 2004 in search of lower taxes and a fabulous new home.
Why they're never leaving: A 2,500-square-foot, three-level, three-bedroom brownstone-style building - with crown moldings and hardwood floors - and three levels of outdoor space: a patio, a grilling deck off the kitchen, and Alcock's future rooftop garden.
A four-block walk to the light rail, the Sunday farmers' market - and a vibrant social life within steps of their front stoop, including Thursday nights at the Merchant of Venice, Orenco Station's version of Cheers. "At first we were wary of leaving the city and all of our friends, but we already know more people here than we did in Portland," Alcock says.
The story behind the burb: The award-winning 260-acre development, begun in 1997, focuses on the pedestrian and light-rail commuter rather than the classic car-centric suburbanite. The neighborhood itself is arranged around parks and a bustling Main Street.
Want in? Condos start at about $160K, while single-family homes, on lots that average 3,500 square feet, sell for mid- to high $300K. There are about 1,200 units in Orenco Station; the number will cap off at around 2,000 in roughly five years. www.orencostation.com
Other new burbs we love
• Belle Creek, CO, has won awards for its affordable, family-focused development. www.newtownbuilders.com
• NorthWest Crossing in Bend, OR, preserved the landscape and connected street, sidewalk, and trail systems. www.northwestcrossing.com
• Premier Gardens in Sacramento, already sold out, wins praise for its "zero-energy" houses, while homeowners toast electricity bill savings. www.builtbypremier.com
• Prospect New Town in Longmont, CO, features narrow, tree-lined streets and a central park. www.prospectnewtown.com